Why Should I Mill Flour? (Part 1)

Part 1 - the nutritional profile of freshly milled whole grain flour vs sifted white flour
Why Should I Mill Flour? (Part 1)
Part 1: Nutrition Profile of Fresh Milled Flour

I can just buy unbleached, organic flour from the store, right? I hear this ALL. THE. TIME. The short answer is that there are MANY reasons why, but let's talk today about the NUTRIENT differences.

Shelf Life

What happens to fruit or vegetables that sit on a shelf? You know - real food with real vitamins and minerals. They oxidize (losing nutrients), which we can see as the parts exposed to air turn brown. Flour doesn't do this because they remove the bran and germ (nutrient powerhouses) from the flour and sometimes treat the flour with chemicals to keep it looking fresh. Why? The fat soluble vitamins can go rancid, and the bran doesn't make nice white, fluffy flour so these are sold as animal feed for profit.

Ecological Agricultural Projects published this info on the nutritional profile of freshly milled stone ground flour. White flour contains the endosperm, while 100% whole grain freshly milled flour contains all the parts of the grain (bran, germ, and endosperm).

Let's assume we are making a loaf of our basic lean bread dough. There are 510 grams of flour in this recipe. I'm going to multiply each of the values in the table from by 5.1 to get the total values, and then divide by the number of slices in the loaf. I get, on average, about 16 slices of bread per loaf. The chart below shows the data from Ecological Agricultural Projects data, converted to the measure we typically see on food labels - by the loaf AND by the slice.

Component Sifted Loaf Sifted Slice Unsifted Loaf Unsifted Slice
Carbohydrates 377 g23 g 872 g54 g
Starch 369 g23 g 533 g33 g
Fiber (Insoluble) 16 g1 g 287 g17 g
Protein 54 g3 g 271 g16 g
Lysine 1,275 mg79 mg 12,801 mg800 mg
Fat 5 grams0.3 g 75 grams4.6 g
Phosphorus 550 mg34 mg 12,484 mg780 mg
Potassium 550 mg34 mg 11,908 mg744 mg
Magnesium 107 mg6.6 mg 4,391 mg274 mg
Iron 9.9 mg0.6 mg 117 mg7.3 mg
B1 (Thiamine) 306 mg19 mg 13,872 mg867 mg
B2 (Riboflavin) 153 mg9.5 mg 6426 mg401 mg
B3 (Niacin) 3570 mg223 mg 116,790 mg7,299 mg
E (tocopherol) 11,730 mg733 mg 198,900 mg12,431 mg
Water 70 grams4.4 g 189 grams11.8 g
Energy 1810 kcal / 7,599 KJ113 kcal / 475 KJ 4,533 kcal / 19,017 KJ283 kcal / 1,188 KJ

What was Filtered Out?

The vitamins that feed your Krebs Cycle (which creates energy in the body) in your body! Minerals that support enzyme function in the body. Healthy fat and vitamin E, that's so great for the heart, the skin, and more. Insoluble fiber, which helps the body MAKE even more nutrients as well as regulate your bowel habits. Polyphenols, whose benefits are not yet fully known, are gone with shelf stable flour. They are PRESENT and accounted for in fresh milled flour. Where are my extra virgin olive oil folks? You're seeking the highest quality because of the highest poly-phenol content.

But, they fortify my (store bought) flour!

You are right! They have to add in vitamins due to all the birth defects and other physical and mental health ailments folks had after they began filtering these things out. Here is where the problem lies.

If a product is "enriched" or fortified with vitamins, they are adding thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid, iron, and sometimes calcium. These are SYNTHETIC vitamins, which is like paying $20 for vitamins and maybe getting to use a few cents to a dollar of them. This is enough to prevent severe health issues in the public, but it's not enough if you're looking for your best health. If you have the MTHFR genetic mutation, you have issues with methylation of some synthetic vitamins and for you they can be toxic, leading to more problems the longer you consume them. In particular, folic acid.

According to the USDA's nutrient database (they are not my favorite to quote, but it's data), hard white wheat berries contain 38 micrograms of folate per 100g. That's 193.8 micrograms of folate per loaf and 12 micrograms of folate per slice of bread when using fresh milled, unsifted flour. There is ZERO folate in fortified flour, it's all the synthetic folic acid.

And did you know they used to fortify our flour with iodine in the 60s, before they switched over to bromination?[1] That's an post for another day.

How many of us take multi-vitamins with these nutrients in them? How many of us buy food based vitamins over synthetic? I prefer to mill the flour, forgo buying vitamins I could get in my flour naturally, and enjoy the phenomenal flavor of freshly milled baked goods.

Photo credit: [2]

  1. History of Fortification in the US and Canada ↩︎

  2. Designed by Freepik ↩︎

About the author
Melanie Carr

Melanie Carr

I'm a chiropractor for my day job, but the rest of the time I home school and enjoy sharing about the benefits of fresh milled flour.

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